362. Telegram From the Delegation to the Conference on the Law of the Sea to the Department of State1

1132. Law of Sea. Deptel 1138.2 We will report in separate tel on my initial conversations with view to preparation for introduction our new compromise.3 Our assessment at present is that there is good chance for simple majority in favor of compromise in First Committee, and with hard work good chance build this up to two-thirds (assuming Soviet and Arab opposition and number abstentions) before plenary vote, and we are taking every measure to that end. We shall of course avoid being jockeyed into further concessions and will press for change in committee action on Article 24.

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We hope Dept will urgently circularize all embassies except Soviet bloc, Arab States (unless Dept feels Iraq and Lebanon should be approached) and Iceland. We suggest missions be asked to approach govts at high level stressing this is last clear chance to obtain agreement which will establish stability in maritime law and make possible maintenance of overall free world interests in this important field. This especially important today when free world sorely pressed by Communist offensive. Only these paramount considerations have led US to consider departure from its hitherto inflexible insistence on three-mile limit.

Embassy should be requested to stress as appropriate locally:

Six-mile maximum territorial sea is major and unprecedented US concession.
Fishing provisions constitute sincere attempt to balance interests of coastal states and those of states primarily interested in overseas fisheries.
Existing and future bilateral and regional arrangements are fully recognized, thus permitting further equitable adjustments of national interests.
Conservation measures are expressly recognized.

We hope govts will appreciate we have made sincere effort to include in our compromise formula every possible means of accommodation to interests and views of our friends, even at considerable cost to ourselves, and trust that in interest of stable and fruitful international relations we will have sympathetic response to this final and extremely important step on our part.

  1. Source: Department State, Central Files, 399.731/4–1458. Confidential; Priority.
  2. Supra.
  3. See Document 365.